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Plisskin

Joy Womack

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I think you are right in all regards, sadly. I really do wonder what will await her when she returns full time to Moscow. As for her continued use of the untruths, there has also been discussion on other threads about the same thing with Misty Copeland. However, Misty, or someone in her PR group did correct this, and I thought it great that she did acknowledge two of the other ballerinas during her curtain calls in Swan Lake. I know Joy is aware that she most def is not the first American to graduate, nor the first to be hired as many people have commented on this issue. As for the Principal status, she might get away with it with uneducated (in ballet) people who don't recognize the difference, but most definitely she would not gain herself and respect amongst her colleagues by continuously referring to herself in that regard. I really do wonder how this will affect her in the eyes of other Artistic Directors. If it make me uneasy, and I'm just a former dancer turned teacher, I can't imagine how her own director and company feel, as well as others in the profession.

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I thought it was very odd that she made it so public about auditioning for other companies over the summer. That would be considered bad form in any industry. That and the negative comments about a teacher in another video, filming class every day, and all the other drama... I'm not surprised she's unpopular with her colleagues at all.

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Joy recently danced her debut leads in Swan Lake and Don Quixote within two weeks of each other. Not sure why they scheduled both debuts in such close proximity -- seems a risk for such a young soloist -- but there you have it.

You can see her Swan Lake here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoZW_qmkDQE. Don Quixote clips are on Facebook on the Балет Кремлевский page.

I have a hard time making my mind up re: just about anything Joy Womack. I want to believe her because she's so darn likeable and earnest, but there are so many elements of her story that don't add up or are just plain odd. I'm sure we'll never know the whole truth or even a decent majority, but I admit to being intrigued.

She's supposed to have a documentary coming out soon, but the trail on that one is interesting: it seems that it was already released to a few festivals, and was mostly a story about her and her ex-husband, who, I guess, is no longer in the picture. But in recent videos she mentions that the documentary crew is filming her again, so...an addendum? Maybe they're scrapping the young lovers bit altogether since it obviously no longer applies (Joy, to my knowledge, has never referenced her husband or even the fact that she was married). In any case, I doubt it will be a probing, truth-seeking kind of production.

Who knows. What do you all think about her O/O and Kitri?

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I didn't particularly like her Odette, but her extensions make me swoon, especially with her right leg. Was she partnered by the same dancer in Swan Lake and Don Q? Because I thought her Siegfried did her absolutely no favours either...

Her Kitri on the other hand makes me wish for a DVD quality release of that performance, because she was perfect. The role seemed to fit her temper much better and she really brought a lot of charm to the bravura.

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I didn't particularly like her Odette, but her extensions make me swoon, especially with her right leg. Was she partnered by the same dancer in Swan Lake and Don Q? Because I thought her Siegfried did her absolutely no favours either...

Her Kitri on the other hand makes me wish for a DVD quality release of that performance, because she was perfect. The role seemed to fit her temper much better and she really brought a lot of charm to the bravura.

No. In her vlogs she said her partner didn't like her. He and other company/staff (?) members blamed his performance and lack of chemistry with Joy on her. She's danced a lot with the guy in the Don Q performance. They seem to have a good working relationship.

I think it says a lot about Russians that they can come to the West (particularly the U.S.) and not be in a hostile work environment and even reach stardom (Kotchekova, Baryshnikov, etc). But when it's the other way around, Americans dancing in Russian company's generally don't get treated very well unless your David Hallberg... Which, even with Hallberg I'm not so sure about that. Let me go look at some older interviews...

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There are always two sides to every story and so far we've only heard the one told by Joy. My initial empathy for her plight gradually turned into annoyanace with her constant whining and blaming everyone esle for her problems and it got to the point where I almost think of her as an ungrateful and self-righteous person. I take all her stories with a grain of salt.

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I'm quite new to this forum, although I have a background in ballet. I watched some of the Swan Lake O/O performance - I couldn't bear to watch it all. I watched most of what was posted of the DonQ performances by her. Whilst I think her Kitri is slightly better than her Odette or Odile, I am not wowed by any of them. I thought her Kitri 1st act variation was rather dull instead of the dynamic, energetic vivaciousness that typifies this solo. I just could not get a sense of any personality from any of the roles she played (or maybe I just didn't care for the personality I saw?). Also, I was not that impressed with her technique, I think her turnout is poor (or at least, perhaps when she is tired she cannot hold the turnout she has got). She may have high extensions, but I would go for someone with a more stable and firm core who hits the positions (arms as well as legs) on time rather than sacrifice them for height of leg. I don't think she is a very musical dancer - I have watched her dance in so many solos from her school performances to these recent ones, and I am always hoping that she might just 'get it'. I am not surprised at all that POB did not take her. I am very surprised that she even got an audition. She may want to dance in a company other than the Kremlin, but I am not sure that she will get into a company with a prestigious name (which is what I think Joy wants).

She will have to learn that most ballet companies will not let their employees take an ad hoc holiday in the middle of their season, just because the dancer in question has done a couple of debuts and worked hard! (I don't mean to sound harsh, but that is just the latest whine of Joy's and I do think she should be counting her blessings rather than continuing to see the negative side of life) Perhaps someone ought to send her a biography of the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company during the 2WW - dancing really was hard then! (This is a link to a 2007 article saying as much - http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2007/feb/15/dance

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She's been clear that her dream is and has been to dance for the Bolshoi, even if she applies elsewhere. Who know what Vaziev will do now: he promoted Somova aggressively as head of the Mariinsky Theatre, and Womack may be his aesthetic.

I can't fault her for wanting to go to a company that pays enough to survive: she can't live at home in Moscow.

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She's been clear that her dream is and has been to dance for the Bolshoi, even if she applies elsewhere. Who know what Vaziev will do now: he promoted Somova aggressively as head of the Mariinsky Theatre, and Womack may be his aesthetic.

The bridges burned pretty brightly when Womack left the Bolshoi, though. It's hard to imagine the door back there being anything other than slammed shut, unless she suddenly morphs into Zakharova II (i.e. so good they can't ignore her). Even then, I don't know. She's already shown her willingness to cause trouble for her directors at more than one company, and it's difficult to see the Bolshoi heads being willing to undergo that risk a second time.

For that matter, any director considering her would have to think long and hard about having an amateur Breaking Pointe production on their hands.

In regards to her personally, my indecision mainly stems from the fact that (a) she's really young and (b) she's on a public vulnerability kick, which, while probably honorable (and effective in building a brand, apparently), really subjects her to lots of this kind of speculation and discussion.

I often give her the benefit of the doubt because, really, who among us would pass the consistency test if we honestly recorded our thoughts and uploaded them to the internet everyday? I'm not above admitting that, on certain work days, my stream-of-consciousness would likely sound pretty whiny, too.

The difference is: I work though my anger, disappointment, sadness, etc. and mostly present a unified front, especially professionally, because that's what's socially expected. Joy uploads all those emotions to the internet for us all to pick over and dissect, ad infinitum.

Is this wise? For her sake, I hope it works out. But I also think there may be a real risk -- maybe one she's calculated and is willing to take -- of having a huge YouTube channel...and no job.

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She will have to learn that most ballet companies will not let their employees take an ad hoc holiday in the middle of their season, just because the dancer in question has done a couple of debuts and worked hard! (I don't mean to sound harsh, but that is just the latest whine of Joy's and I do think she should be counting her blessings rather than continuing to see the negative side of life) Perhaps someone ought to send her a biography of the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company during the 2WW - dancing really was hard then! (This is a link to a 2007 article saying as much - http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2007/feb/15/dance

Work ethic still counts for a great deal in the ballet world, and the Russian dancers once had the reputation of being hard workers - this may be changing in recent years, but someone like Maria Kochetkova (as Plisskin mentions above), is a total Type-A personality - no one can say she hasn't worked for what is coming to her (the problem for Kochetkova is getting adequate rest and relaxation). Womack strikes me as being very much of her generation - there's a certain air of entitlement to go with all the airing of "feelings" for all the world to see and hear about. It certainly isn't only Womack with these attitudes. No A.D. loves dealing with a prima donna, or emotional basketcase, but it does go with the territory.

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I can't speak to Womack's work ethic. She seems to work hard. The videos I've seen of her dancing leave me unimpressed. She certainly seems to want to create an audience by way of interest in her story. It is likely she will create followers who have never seen her dance. They will know her thoughts, frustrations and feelings (at least those Womack wants to reveal) but will have never seen her perform and most likely never have an opportunity to see her perform. Strange. I admit that I enjoy learning tidbits about certain dancers' personal lives - Ashley Bouder being pregnant, Gillian Murphy & Ethan Stiefel getting married etc, but my interest began with being a fan of those dancers and seeing them perform year after year. I honestly don't know if that makes a diference.

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http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/the-story-of-ballet-dancers-sergei-polunin-and-joy-womack-a-1059837.html

This has to be one of the most inflammatory articles I've ever read. It actually just makes me angry. To compare Polunin to Womack is the most rediculous thing I can think. She isn't ranked prima ballerina. She says principal, the company lists her 1st soloist. She rants about her job, her host country, and films when asked not to by uncomfortable colleagues and wonders why she isn't welcome?!?! And gets angry when she can't leave in the middle of the season?!? Seriously?!?! She wasn't taken by Los Angeles Ballet, nor the Paris Opera (did not figure into even the finals). There are other Americans dancing in Rusia, Maria Beck at the Stanislovsky, Mario Labrador at Mikhailovsky, getting paid living salleries and dancing roles appropriate to their talent and working their way up in the company. What has bothered me from the beginning of this story is the entitlement that she seems to expect. If she were 'prima ballerina' why is she dancing Demi and soloist parts, and small corps de ballet roles as well as now two principal roles. And complaining that now she is dancing principal parts she has a hard time dancing soloist roles. How would any artistic director even want to hire someone so critical of the companies she has worked for so far, and now that article appears and sensationalizing the dark areas of the art. She does work hard, but so do many others. But if she wishes to keep her current job, and especially if she wants to change companies as she seems to be expressing, she needs to realize that venting on her current employer and fellow dancers is going to come back and bite her hard. And the whole thing with the Bolshoi... She was on a contract that is similar to what Paris Opera did with Hannah O'Neil. Even O'Neal said in that first year she only danced 3 or 4 times. (She was promoted to Premier Dansure, and she did this by proving herself in corps, Demi and soloist roles. As do most people who have a promising career). It was a temporary contract and one that was not even offered at graduation, but in a general auditin as the Bolshoi did not accept her as a performer based off of her exams and performance. And to say that it was so easy for Polunin, who did go very quickly from soloist to principal, is unreal. The raw talent tha Polinin has is unbelievably rare. I have found that Ms. Womack struggles with musicality, phrasing, and learning choreography quickly. I have family in Moscow who know ballet (one graduated from Bolshoi, one from Kiev) and have seen her dance. Let's just say their opinion falls more closely in line with what her fellow dancer said after Joy went to the press about the $10,000.

I'm sorry for the rant, but I am so tired of the entitlement that some young dancers seem to expect. I do have an observation that leads to a question... She has said, repeatedly, that she danced the lead in her graduation performance. And initially I didn't think anything about it since it was Paquita. So I assumed if it was the lead, Paquita was performed as the Vaganova school does and paralleling the leading role that Zhiganshina dance, with soloists, Demi-soloists and corps. But when the video was posted, all I saw was her and Mr. Labrador performing the Pas de Deux as an excerpt piece. Since this was one of many stand alone Pas that was performed, is she implying it was the 'lead' because it was Paquita, or because she views the other pieces as lesser works. I just don't understand the reasoning with this one. But her entire 'saga' has been murky from day one. I so wish someone would advise her to be careful about what she says on a very public blog. The ballet world is incredibly small, and this may very well all blow up on her if she doesn't tread carefully.

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Fraildove, I read that article and was really annoyed, like you. I could not believe that someone had actually compared Womack (whom I'm sure most people outwith the 'Youtube Womack fan club' had never heard of) with Polunin. If they had wanted to compare East with West (which seemed to me to be the twist in the article) they could have used David Hallberg or Xander Parish although they are male and I guess wouldn't have made as good 'copy' for sales.

Regarding you comment about wishing someone advising her to be careful about what she says on her blogs... it's been done, many times by well meaning people on the early blog posts. If I remember correctly, she reacted by taking the comments down or replying that she could do what she wanted because it was her blog, her life and something about being 'true' (!) to herself.

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I'll admit that I find her V-logs entertaining (and I'll keep watching), but in the long run I think they will hinder her career. She reveals too much about her coworkers ( I remember in one video she talked about some incident with on of the female principals there. So much second hand embarrassment for her when she talked about that...) Just from the video's I've seen of her dancing, she's lucky to be a soloist to be honest. At most, I'd have her as a Coryphee. Their is no characterization or interpretation when she dances. She just executes the steps and not much else. People love to bash Oksana Skorik but even she has more characterization than Womack...And she does come across as entitled. No matter what job you have, you can't just take off and go home because "your tired and worked hard". Especially during a busy time in your company...There has been many times I wished I could say "peace out" to my manager and go on a holiday, but it doesn't work like that in the adult world.

But really, she should be very greatful that the Kremlin took her in after the Bolshoi fiasco and lying about how in love she was with her green card husband. Which she might be grateful . I can't judge too harshly on someone's life who I don't know from 10 minute video's and her interviews...But I will forever sideye a lot of sketchy things she's done in the past, and her continued lie of calling herself a principal...

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Regarding you comment about wishing someone advising her to be careful about what she says on her blogs... it's been done, many times by well meaning people on the early blog posts. If I remember correctly, she reacted by taking the comments down or replying that she could do what she wanted because it was her blog, her life and something about being 'true' (!) to herself.

It happened just today. Her entry this afternoon contained some very unflattering characterizations of both her company and her partner. I continue to be surprised she's comfortable putting such things online. Refraining from mentioning names does nothing to protect identities, since anyone with Google can quickly figure out to whom she's referring.

Anyway, someone left a long-ish, articulate comment stating basically what most here have been saying: that this very public airing of grievances is unprofessional and can hardly do her favors.

The poster of the comment was extremely polite. The comment was truthful, but not mean.

And, an hour later, it was gone.

It is, of course, quite possible that the OP reconsidered the comment and deleted it...but it's also possible that Joy got rid of it herself.

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I just watched her latest blog. It's the last for me. I don't know what she is trying to do but from what I can see of her dancing, although she has tremendous facility, it is not of a high caliber. She seems to work hard but working hard and working right are two different things. I can't help but feel sad for her with her prima bar and her attempt to make a company fit her ideal.

That's my take on it.

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My teacher always said working hard and working smart are two things a dancer must learn. She obviously hasn't figured the last part out, or she is vastly overstating her work schedule (which, sadly, wouldn't surprise me at all). Just today I had a friend who works professionally in Israel Ballet email me her latest blog and said how angry she was to hear anyone in our profession air such grievances. She chose this path, but her coworkers did not choose to be called out in such a public way. She also said that the link was sent by a mutual friend from ABT and the sentiment was the same. So there is no longer doubt that a. her blog has made her famous/infamous, and b. it isn't going to do her many favors if she chooses to audition for other companies. To be honest, I'm surprised her director is allowing her to continue to post without and serious repercussions. It's just sad

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It IS sad. I would venture that 50% of professional ballet life is about the dancing itself. The other half is all about having or adopting the right temperament to handle the life as well as empathy in order to understand others' emotions and viewpoints. Without that second half - all nonverbal learning qualities - all the technique in the world won't make a successful professional dancer... that is, unless you're so phenomenally superior to nearly every other dancer in the world. Yet even then...

Ballet is so much more than facility and technique.

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'Ballet is so much more than facility and technique'

This should be the motto of every ballet school on the planet. Trying to convince young dancers if this is an everyday battle. It's my fear, and I am seeing it everyday, that so many of our young dancers are not being prepared to handle adulthood. I know this is a phenomena occurring across the board, and of course not all fall into that catagory. But I'm seeing a generation of kids who are preprogrammed to have the mentality of entitlement. We talk to our students about reality and illusion, about what will be expected of them and what they can expect. But without parent reinforcement it is hard. Anyone else have that experience?

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I would venture to say that Joy brings a lot of her problems upon herself. Calling her partner a drunk in a public forum is very unwise, even if it is the truth. And if one chooses to live in another country, one should anticipate that things will not be the way you are used to.

What I have a hard time figuring out is if she is actually naive, or something else.

I'm surprised that no one has yet brought up her attempt at hosting the first "BalletCon". She has sent up a kickstarter for $700,000.00, and when I checked last a couple of days ago, only $274.00 had been contributed. I feel so sorry for her.

I will say her Prima Bars are delicious. I just had to see what they were all about, and I was not disappointed.

Can anyone clue me as to why she cannot get Gaynor Mindens in Moscow? I mean, she cannot have them sent to her. I was told because they are made in America, but that can't be true, because she has other American things in her videos. She was just in Los Angeles, so why could she not have gone to a dancewear store and bought a few additional pairs if they are so important to her? Or have her custom order mailed to her parents or a friend, then packed them in her suitcase? Surely that could not be illegal?

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Ms Womack is certainly skating on very thin ice by openly stating that her partner has issues with 'sobriety' (her words). But not only that, in her last but one blog she goes so far as to blame him and his lack of sobriety, for the injury she has that has caused her to need to fly back to Texas. And, Yes, she has got her own way, after the AD denied her time off to go home to the US, she now has 6 days or so to spend in her home city! How does she do it? When I was dancing, you only got time off for severe injury (I continued dancing on a stress fracture because I was so worried that taking time off would mean I might be replaced) or a death in the family ! But I really think it is beyond the pale to blame her partner for her injury.

I think she has a naiive but grandiose view of herself and what she can do in the wider world ( ie wider than her little Kremlin Ballet Youtube world) which is why she thought she could start a Kickstarter 'BalletCon' or whatever it is. Given her already rather blemished reputation as a dancer who is unreliable and is really only out there for number one (herself) I don't think anyone in the ballet world would take it seriously.

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I should admit that I have been following the vlogs - not sure what has my interest really. She complained that she was injured due to her partner (as others have noted above); complained that she wasn't allowed to go back to the US which she needed to do for medical treatment; then in fact did go to the US for a number of days, had hyperbaric treatments and IV (don't know of anyone else who has such easy access to these treatments...personally I don't think I was aware that these were even available in the way she describes); then returned to Russia. First blog back in Russia said she was still jet lagged and in some discomfort due to treatments in US; next vlog is saying that she is bored as she isn't preparing for a principal role.

So - my reflections are as follows:

* I wish this young woman had an advisor/coach regarding appropriate online discussion topics, and generally how to discuss (or not) one's colleagues in public

* Ms. Womack needs to give some thought to what she is complaining about. That is to say, if one complains about being overworked, it is probably not a good idea to complain about being bored a week later.

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If she's using the vlog like a diary, and her schedule is intense, then nothing, I would expect her vlog to reflect the dual nature of her schedule. It sounds like one that would increase the risk of injury and be difficult mentally.

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